Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Hollande’s confidence vote, beer industry consolidation, Boeing’s space contract, Obama’s coffee secret

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What to watch for today

Hollande’s moment of truth. The French president’s new cabinet faces a confidence vote. Any major rebellion by Hollande’s Socialist Party could force new elections and open the door to the right-wing National Front.

The world’s two largest beer companies inch towards a tie-up. Anheuser-Busch InBev is reportedly talking to banks about funding a bid for SABMiller that could be worth up to $122 billion. Together, the companies control a third of the world’s beer supply.

Boeing beats SpaceX to a lucrative space taxi contract. NASA is likely to announce that the US aerospace giant is “the least risky option” (paywall) compared with two smaller rivals also vying for the contract to ferry US astronauts to the International Space Station.

Obama ramps up the fight against Ebola. The US president will announce plans to conduct healthcare training and send portable hospitals, doctors, and medical supplies to West Africa. Liberia has asked for extra help as the virus threatens to overwhelm the country.

While you were sleeping

British leaders wooed Scotland. Conservative prime minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and Labour leader Ed Miliband made a new promise of expanded powers for Scotland if it rejects independence. The secession referendum takes place on Thursday.

UK inflation declined. Consumer prices rose only 1.5% in August, from 1.6% the previous month, as the cost of fuel, food, and nonalcoholic drinks declined. The below-target inflation level makes an interest rate hike from the Bank of England less likely.

The US pressured China over anti-competitive behavior… US treasury secretary Jacob Lew wrote to vice premier Wang Yang accusing Beijing of singling out foreign companies, which have come under intense scrutiny from Chinese regulators in recent months.

…As China turned up the heat on Lexus. Toyota executives were called in to answer questions about the luxury brand’s replacement-parts unit, in an escalation of the Chinese government’s investigation into price fixing in the industry. Earlier this month China levied heavy fines against Volkswagen and Chrysler.

Banks are cracking down on forex traders. Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and other major trading houses will limit access to customer information and force trades onto electronic platforms, according to Bloomberg.

Airbus is cleaning house. The European aerospace group’s defense and space division intends to raise €2 billion ($2.6 billion) by offloading some lesser-known business units including an in-house charter airline.

Orange offered $4.4 billion for Spain’s Jazztel. The French telecom joined the rush among European carriers to consolidate by offering an all-cash deal for the Spanish broadband firm.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how Alibaba’s IPO is already creating headaches for Amazon. “Alibaba, the Chinese internet colossus, is expected to pull off the biggest IPO in history this week. It will sell more than $21 billion of stock, according to Renaissance Capital. The thing is, as MarketWatch points out, big investors need to free up capital to participate in the IPO. To do this, they are likely to sell shares of US e-commerce companies (to avoid over-exposure to the sector). For better or worse, the closest comparable company to Alibaba in the US is Amazon. Ebay’s share price also is under pressure of late.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Apple botched its U2 giveaway. The creepy marketing ploy made its customers distrustful.

The US should throw its borders wide open. It would dramatically improve the world’s economic well-being.

Tipping is no substitute for a living wage. Hotel staff shouldn’t have to rely on customer generosity.

China is partially to blame for the rise of the Islamic State. And now China’s own Muslim dissidents may be finding common cause with IS.

Go ahead, let the kids play on your iPad. We’re all bad at parenting sometimes.

Surprising discoveries

Ikea is a nonprofit. Its byzantine corporate structure results in an extremely low tax rate.

Obama’s coffee preferences are a state secret. A president bedeviled by the Tea Party doesn’t seem to like coffee very much.

7-Up used to contain lithium. The soda was also marketed as a drink to “dispel hangovers.”

The US is divided between those who say “uh” and those who say “um.” Here’s a map of who says what where.

Egypt has the wrong canal on its stamps. They were meant to celebrate the expansion of the Suez Canal, but they show the Panama Canal instead.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, vintage 7-Up, and unwanted U2 albums to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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